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Commenting on the release of figures which show that Scottish unemployment has risen by 16,000 over the three months to January, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“What is worrying about these figures is that Scotland is seeing consistently rising unemployment at a time when the rest of the UK has been experiencing a sustained fall in the number of jobless. Although our overall rate of unemployment remains slightly below the UK average, the gap is narrowing and the worry is that, with a large public sector workforce and spending cuts on the way, Scotland may continue to suffer further rises in unemployment for some time to come.

“This underlines the need for the private sector to be supported as it seeks to create new jobs in Scotland and with the Chancellor’s budget just a week away, that would be a great opportunity for him to send a positive message to Scotland’s business community and abandon plans to impose a further tax on jobs through raising the rates of National Insurance Contributions next year.

“Business recognises the need for Government to reduce public spending and increase revenues but taxes on employment are not the way to go when so many of our talented people need to be recruited back into the workforce.”